Awards ceremony marks Children’s Dental Clinic’s 30th year in Avalon

(L-R) Avalon Angel, Patty Ann McKinnon, Leadership Award recipient Bruce Woods, Leadership Award recipient Hannah Gough, Gail Hodge and Randy Herrel, Catalina Island Company, Janice Hahn Field Representative Brenda Colcoa and Dr. Lynn Fasnacht. Photo by Jim “Woody” Woods

A stellar group of donors, officials and dental professionals gathered on Catalina Island Saturday to commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the Children’s Dental Health Clinic a nonprofit organization that has delivered reduced cost dental services to underserved island children.

George Egbert, president of the Children’s Dental Foundation Board, said “as a result of all the wise and dedicated leadership, and faithful support, we have evolved into a Model Dental Home for our underserved children.”

“We are also here to honor the passion, dedication and generosity of two incredible individuals, Hannah Gough and Brue Woods, and to recognize the Santa Catalina Island company,” he added.

Mayor Anni Marshall welcomed the group to Avalon and said the city will continue to support the clinic into the future. Although now mayor, Marshall has supported the clinic for many years.

Dr. John Blake (DDS), executive director, thanked everyone present for “making the clinic what it is today.”

The clinic has provided a full range of dental services and dental hygiene education to low to moderate income families for 85 years on the mainland in Long Beach and now three decades on Catalina.

Dr. Lynn Fasnacht, a past president of the organization, originally invited Blake to accompany him to accompany him to the island, telling him there was a tremendous demand. (see related story on page 3.) For his dedication to the island, the organization has forever memorialized Dr. Fasnacht’s contribution by creating the Dr. Lynn Fasnacht Leadership Award, said Development Director Barbara Liberman-Jones.

In addition, Liberman-Jones said the group has also created an award to honor Patty Ann MicKinnon, the “Avalon Angel”, who initially stepped up and became the “lead donor” when the CDHC needed a new facility in Avalon.

Both McKinnon and Dr. Fasnacht were present for Saturday’s luncheon, held at the M Restaurant in Avalon. Dr. Carmen Castillo, immediate past president of the foundation, presented an award to the Santa Catalina Island company as she told the story of how the clinic was formed. In doing so, she said former Mayor Ralph Morrow and local businessman Ken Putnam have been very supportive of the effort.

The Island Company believed in the project, she said, and provided a lease near the Avalon school for the facility and helped raise money to make it happen. She thanked the company for “partnering with CDHC to make a state of the art facility a reality.” She presented the award to Island Company CEO Randy Herrel and Development Director Gail Hodge.

“What an honor,” said Herrel, who accepted “on behalf of our board and employees on the island.” Herrel said the Island Company would continue to support the facility, saying it performed “a very important function on this island. I will share this with our employees.”

Josephine Fitzpatrick, Vice President of the CDF, presented the Fasnacht Leadership Award to long-time island resident Hannah Gough, who has for many years lived in Avalon.

After Bill and Hannah purchased a home near the school, they would prepare cookies and other treats for the kids and shared it with them making their way home. Gough knew about the CDHC in Long Beach as she had once as a child received Brownie pins from its founder, Dr. Robert Anderson. One day, when a child refused the cookies, Hannah inquired. The child’s mouth was full of cavities and the family could not afford dental work.

Knowing about the CDHC operating in Long Beach, she shepherded her to clinic (the parents could not afford to go), then more, and soon, there was obviously a demand for the service in Avalon. Ultimately, the clinic was formed and on Saturday, celebrated its 30th Anniversary.

For her dedication and leadership, the Foundation presented to Hannah Gough the Dr. Lynn Fasnacht Leadership Award. Gough thanked Patti Acosta, “who can never say no,” and said most people don’t realize that many children on the island “don’t always have the things other kids do.” She said “helping those children were the joy of our lives.” Watching a child mature into an adult with a beautiful smile is exceptionally rewarding, she said, and said “happy birthday CDHC, you have done an excellent job.”

Treasurer Julie Mendell presented the Patty Ann McKinnon Philanthropy Award to Bruce Woods, one of the most entertaining speakers of the luncheon. Woods has served as President of the 32/32 support group and currently serves as Secretary on the CHF board. He has served on the board for 26 years. He introduced Charles Weaver, the grandson of CDHC founder Dr. Robert Anderson.

Woods is a former educator and his first assignment as principal was at Avalon School, where he came into contact with the clinic. Woods recounted many humorous stories of early Avalon, including the introduction of his two sons, Paul and Woody, and the days when the only gym available was in the island grocery. He said the Avalon basketball team learned quickly how to shoot low arched shots because the grocery store’s roof was not very high, and “Avalon won a lot of home games that way.”

Also, Woods remembered the Wrigley’s and said it was incredulous that Wrigley “made enough money from chewing gum to buy this island.” He said competition was “tough in the 1930’s. One of Wrigley’s competitors, Dentyne, “decided to play a trick. They came over with a skywriter. So the skywriter went up and wrote Dentyne over Avalon. But when he came down he got fired. It was a windy day and it came out Wrigley.”

Woods said it has been an honor to serve the CDHC and he also thanked retiring development director Liberman-Jones, whom he said has done a remarkable job making things happen. Also, he wished her replacement, Belinda Wells, the best of luck as she assumes the position in May.


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